Existing Clients 404-214-0120

Blog and News

Summary Judgment Orders From September

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Nov 02, 2021 | 0 Comments

Laura E. Alkins v. Butch Conway, in his official capacity; District Judge William M. Ray, II and Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker; Retaliation under the opposition clause of Title VII; Summary Judgment: Granted.

Anthony v. Georgia Department of Public Safety; District Judge Steven D. Grimberg and Magistrate Judge Christopher C. Bly; Title VII race discrimination; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 

Balius-Donovan v. Behnamiri and Associates, LLC; District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr and Magistrate Judge Catherine M. Salinas; Individual Defendant's MSJ Granted, Corporate Defendant's MSJ, Title VII retaliation, Sexual battery, Negligent supervision/retention, Fraud, Defamation; Summary Judgment: Granted in Part & Denied in Part.

Banks et al. v. City of Atlanta, GA et al.; District Judge William M. Ray II; I42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VII; Judgment: Granted.
 
Johnson v. American Family Insurance; District Judge Mark L. Brown and Magistrate Judge Christopher C. Bly; Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 
Farrakhan v. Dal Global Services D/B/A Delta Global Services, Delta Airlines, and John Does 1–10; District Judge Michael L. Brown and Magistrate Judge Regina D. Cannon; race, national origin, and religious discrimination, First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 
Cisero v. ADT LLC of Delaware; District Judge Steven D. Grimberg and Magistrate Judge Catherine M. Salinas;
Race Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 

Stevenson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.; District Judge Amy Totenberg and Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker; Failure to Accommodate, Disability Discrimination, Race Discrimination, Gender Discrimination, Age Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.

Clark v. Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists, LLC et al.; District Judge Michael L. Brown and Magistrate Judge Regina D. Cannon; Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Retaliation, Battery, Negligent Retention; Summary Judgment: Granted in Part & Denied in Part.
 
Powell v. Burger Docs Atlanta, Inc.; District Judge Michael L. Brown and Magistrate Judge John K. Larkins;
Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Denied.
 
Craven v. Alpha Omega Construction Group; District Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. and Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker; Disability Termination, Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation; Summary Judgment: Denied.
 
Davis v. Teachers Retirement System of Georgia; District Judge Steven D. Grimberg and Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman; Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 
Reddy v. Milan Eye LLC; District Judge Amy Totenberg and Magistrate Judge Regina D. Cannon; Gender Discrimination, Race/National Origin Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Denied.
 
Woods v. Lockheed Martin Corporation; District Judge Steven D. Grimberg and Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker; Disability Discrimination, Retaliation Discrimination; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 
Ball v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia; District Judge Steven D. Grimberg and Magistrate Judge Christopher C. Bly; Sex Discrimination, Race Discrimination; Summary Judgment: Granted in Part & Denied in Part.
 
Kelley v. Catherine Howden and GEMA/Homeland Security; District Judge William M. Ray II and Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand; Race Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 
Davis v. Dekalb County; District Judge Leigh Martin May and Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand; Race Discrimination; Summary Judgment: Granted.
 
Baines v. City of Atlanta, GA and Robin Shahar in her Individual Capacity; District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. and Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand; Sex Harassment and Discrimination, Discrimination and Retaliation, Failure to Accommodate, FMLA Interference Against City, FMLA Retaliation Against City; Summary Judgment: Granted in Part & Denied in Part.
 

Natasha Grimes v. Technical College System of Georgia, Lori Durden, and Ryan Foley; District Judge William M. Ray, II and Magistrate Judge John K. Larkin III; Disability Retaliation Under Rehabilitation Act, Disability Retaliation Under Title VII, Gender Discrimination, Race Discrimination; Summary Judgment: Granted.

Franks v. Whitfield County, GA; District Judge Harold Lloyd Murphy and Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson; Sexually Hostile Work Environment, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted in Part & Denied in Part.
 

del Portillo et al. v. Dekalb Medical Center, Inc.; District Judge Clarence Cooper and Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman; Tortious Interference w/ Contractual Relationship or Business Relations, Sex Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.

Nicole Owens v. State of Georgia, Governor's Office of Student Achievement; District Judge Mark H. Cohen and Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker; Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.

Lamonte v. City of Hampton, GA; District Judge Amy Totenberg and Magistrate Judge Catherine M. Salinas; Racial Discrimination, Whistleblower Act, Breach of Contract; Summary Judgment: Granted in Part & Denied in Part.

Evans v. Gwinnett County School District; District Judge J.P. Boulee and Magistrate Judge John K. Larkins; Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Denied.

Dobbs v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.; District Judge Mark H. Cohen and Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker; Age Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.

Gladden v. The Proctor & Gamble Distributing, LLC; District Judge Charles A. Pannell and Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand; Sex Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted in Part & Denied in Part.
 

Ruiz v. Fulton County School District; District Judge Charles A. Pannell and Magistrate J. Clay Fuller; Failure to Accommodate Claim; Summary Judgment: Granted.

Guatemion (Juan) Mosley v. Preston Cycles West, LLC; District Judge Steve C. Jones and Magistrate Justin S. Anand; Sexual Harassment Hostile Work Environment, Discrimination, Retaliation; Summary Judgment: Granted.

 

Case Name: Laura E. Alkins v. Butch Conway

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Christopher C. Bly

District Judge: William M. Ray, II

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Retaliation under the opposition clause of Title VII
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

The District Court adopted the R&R and granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff was employed by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office from 1999 until her termination on February 23, 2018. On February 2, 2018, Plaintiff was called into Major Raymond Pelis's office to discuss her upcoming routine transfer to the jail for work. Plaintiff told Major Pelis that she was kissed without her permission by Captain Jon Spear eight years prior. She was concerned she would have to work for Captain Spear if she was transferred. Three investigations later (two of which focused on statements Plaintiff made about the prior investigation), Plaintiff was terminated.

Plaintiff alleged that she was retaliated against in violation of Title VII when she was forced to take a polygraph, placed on leave, demoted, and terminated. The Court found, however, that she was unable to make a prima facie case of retaliation because it determined that a reasonable person would not find the circumstances surrounding the alleged sexual harassment to be so severe as to meet the standard. Specifically, the Court believed an open-mouth kiss was not overtly sexual and that it was not forced, despite acknowledging that Plaintiff froze, neither giving permission, nor participating in the kiss. The District Court agreed and also noted that the kiss was a single incident that was not reported for eight years.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameAnthony v. Georgia Department of Public Safety

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII race discrimination
    • Outcome: Defendant's MSJ granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African American

            Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

The District Court adopted the R&R and granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant for race discrimination pursuant to Title VII and alleges that Defendant subjected him to unwarranted investigations and denied him promotions on the basis of his race. Defendant moved for summary judgment. While Plaintiff established the first three elements of his prima facie case, he failed to offer evidence that Defendant treated his comparator more favorably. Even without a valid comparator, Plaintiff could not prevail at summary judgment because Plaintiff could not create a convincing mosaic that would allow a jury to infer intentional discrimination. Additionally, Plaintiff offered no evidence that he was not promoted due to instruction to not promote him based on his race. Therefore, the Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameBalius-Donovan v. Behnamiri and Associates, LLC

Nature of the Order: Order Partially Adopting Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Catherine M. Salinas

District Judge: Charles A. Pannell, Jr.

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII sexual harassment
    • Outcome: Individual Defendant's MSJ Granted, Corporate Defendant's MSJ Denied
  2. Claim: Title VII retaliation
    • Outcome: All Defendants' MSJ Granted
  3. Claim: Sexual battery
    • Outcome: Corporate Defendants'MSJ Granted
  4. Claim: Negligent supervision/retention
    • Outcome: Corporate Defendants'MSJ Granted, Individual Defendant's MSJ Granted
  5. Claim: Fraud
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ Denied
  6. Claim: Equitable estoppel
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ Granted
  7. Counterclaim: Defamation
    • Outcome: Plaintiff's MSJ Granted
  8. Counterclaim: Intentional infliction of emotional distress
    • Outcome: Plaintiff's MSJ Granted
  9. Counterclaim: Abusive litigation
    • Outcome: Plaintiff's MSJ Granted

Whether R&R Followed: In Part

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

Individual defendants Mr. Behnamiri and Mr. Negahdar owned the restaurants listed as corporate defendants, with Mr. Behnamiri being the majority owner in two of the restaurants and Mr. Negahdar being minority owner and general manager. Plaintiff worked at two of the locations for 16 years, during which time Mr. Behnamiri would grab, kiss, and hug her. At one point, Mr. Behnamiri told Plaintiff she should buy a home and offered to help by cosigning a loan with her. Eventually, Mr. Behnamiri decided that he only wanted his name on the loan, which carried a higher interest rate for Plaintiff as a result. She also paid a down payment at closing and understood that she would be making mortgage payments. Mr. Behnamiri told Plaintiff that he would execute a quitclaim deed at closing, but he did not. He asserted that their deal was for Plaintiff to make rent payments rather than pay the mortgage. After closing on the home, Mr. Behnamiri's conduct at work escalated. Plaintiff asked him to stop on multiple occasions. While she did not report his conduct, she told several people that she was uncomfortable, and there were witnesses to his behavior. Plaintiff filed suit after resigning, alleging Title VII sexual harassment, sexual battery, negligent supervision and retention, fraud, and equitable estoppel. Plaintiff then added a Title VII retaliation claim based on Mr. Behnamiri bringing several counterclaims. Based on the R&R and lack of objections to some findings, the Court needed only to address Plaintiff's Title VII sexual harassment claim against the corporate defendants, her negligent supervision and retention claim against Mr. Negahdar, her fraud claim against against Mr. Behnamiri, and remedies.

Regarding Plaintiff's Title VII sexual harassment claim against the corporate defendants, the Court denied summary judgment because there was an issue of fact as to the unwelcomeness of the conduct. Further, Plaintiff provided evidence that the conduct was severe and pervasive as the conduct occurred frequently over many years, involved groping that could rise to the level of battery, and impacted her negatively at work. As to Plaintiff's negligent supervision and retention claim against, the Court held that Plaintiff could cite no authority allowing her to hold a minority owner/manager liable for the actions of a majority owner. Thus, the Court granted summary judgment to on this claim. As to Plaintiff's fraud claim, the Court denied summary judgment because Plaintiff presented evidence supporting her fraud claim by showing that Mr. Behnamiri told Plaintiff he would quitclaim the property to her but never intended to do so. As to remedies, the Court denied summary judgment on the availability of a constructive trust as a remedy to Plaintiff because her fraud claim survived summary judgment. Regarding punitive damages, the Court denied summary judgment in favor of the corporate defendants and Mr. Behnamiri because claims against them remained but granted summary judgment in favor of Mr. Negahdar.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameBanks et al. v. City of Atlanta, GA et al.

Nature of the Order: Order Granting Summary Judgment

District Judge: William M. Ray II

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: 42 U.S.C. § 1983
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Title VII
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiffs: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiffs: Female

Summary:

The four Plaintiffs worked in the Department of Aviation (DOA) for the City of Atlanta. Charles Ewing also worked in this department from 1996 until 2010 and again from 2015 until May 2019. From 2010 to 2018, the City had a policy prohibiting sexual harassment that also detailed the procedure for employees to report sexual harassment. The City put an updated sexual harassment policy in place toward the end of 2018. Plaintiffs alleged that, at various times, Ewing made sexual comments and touched each of them inappropriately. In May 2019, the Plaintiffs reported Ewing's conduct to management. The City investigated the complaints, eventually forcing Ewing to retire. The Plaintiffs filed suit against the City and Ewing, bringing in relevant part claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII against the City.

Regarding Plaintiffs § 1983 claim, they asserted that the City essentially had a custom or widespread practice of ignoring Ewing's conduct. The court found that Plaintiffs did not present evidence to show that management was aware of Ewing's conduct before their complaints in May of 2019. As the City maintained a sexual harassment policy, the court held that Plaintiffs did not create an issue of fact as to whether the City had a custom of ignoring sexual harassment complaints. Regarding the Plaintiffs' Title VII claim, the court held that the City maintained a Faragher/Ellerth defense. The City's promulgation of and commitment to its sexual harassment policy and its prompt investigation and effective termination of Ewing showed that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the sexual harassment. Further, the court held that the Plaintiffs unreasonably failed to take advantage of preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer by failing to report Ewing for, depending on the plaintiff, five months to several years. Thus, the court granted summary judgment on both claims in favor of the City.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameJohnson v. American Family Insurance

Nature of the Order: Order

Magistrate Judge: Christopher C. Bly

District Judge: Mark L. Brown

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Discrimination under Title VII
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Retaliation under Title VII
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  3. Claim: Discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  4. Claim: Retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Adopted

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African American

            Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

Plaintiff, an African American woman, was terminated from her job as an insurance agent for repeatedly being rude and disrespectful. After multiple warnings as well as meetings, defendant ultimately chose to terminate her employment when her behavior did not improve. Prior to being terminated, Plaintiff filed an internal complaint against her supervisor for racial discrimination, but declined to proceed further with the complaint. After her termination, Plaintiff claimed that defendant both discriminated against her and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII and Section 1981. However, Plaintiff did not respond to Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

The Court recommended summary judgment on all four claims. Judge Bly found no direct, circumstantial, or mixed-motive evidence of discrimination that could not be explained by Plaintiff's well-documented history of rude behavior. As for the retaliation claims, Judge Bly found that Plaintiff did not establish a strong enough causal connection between her protected activity (her complaint of racial discrimination from May 2016) and the adverse actions that took place. The adverse actions took place too far removed from the complaint and could plausibly be explained again by her rude and disrespectful behavior. Therefore, the Court recommended summary judgment be granted in favor of the Defendants. Because Plaintiff did not object, the District Court adopted the recommendations.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameFarrakhan v. Dal Global Services D/B/A Delta Global Services, Delta Airlines, and John Does 1–10

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Regina D. Cannon

District Judge: Michael L. Brown

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII, race, national origin, and religious discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: 42 U.S.C. § 1981, race/national origin discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  3. Claim: First Amendment
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  4. Claim: Fourteenth Amendment
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: Japanese American
            Religion of Plaintiff: Member of Nation of Islam

Summary:

The Court adopted the Magistrate's Report & Recommendation, which is summarized below.

Plaintiff, a Japanese American employee for Delta and a member of the Nation of Islam, filed suit on the above-mentioned clams. Defendant moved for summary judgment on all claims. The magistrate judge found that Plaintiff has abandoned her constitutional claims and her discrimination claims based on her race or national origin and recommended granting summary judgment. Therefore, the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation only addressed the merits of the Title VII religious discrimination. The magistrate judge recommended granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's religious discrimination claim because Plaintiff was unable to show adverse employment action because she was temporarily suspended with pay with a six-day delay in receiving her paycheck. The magistrate judge also determined that, even if Plaintiff could satisfy the element of adverse employment action, she could not show that the employer's reason for termination was pretext. The magistrate judge stated that her arguments rested only on her speculation that her employer's investigation into her was because of her religion and was not enough to survive summary judgment.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameCisero v. ADT LLC of Delaware

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Catherine M. Salinas

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII Race Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Section 1981 Race Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  3. Claim: Title VII Retaliation
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  4. Claim: Section 1981 Retaliation
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

Race of Plaintiff: African American

Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

Plaintiff, an African American woman, worked for Defendant ADT as a Commercial Security Consultant (“CSC”). During her employment, Plaintiff became concerned that her manager, a white man, was sabotaging her income potential by bringing in other CSCs on her projects at the last minute, which implicated ADT's policy of splitting commissions. Plaintiff complained of this practice on several occasions. Months later, Plaintiff was terminated in April for job deficiencies. In Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff asserted claims pursuant to Title VII and Section 1981, alleging that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race when ADT's Commercial Sales Manager interfered with her sales by: (1) reassigning her leads to non-African-American counterparts; (2) taking over or removing leads generated or managed by Plaintiff at the last minute; and/or (3) requiring her to split leads with other CSC, resulting in shared commissions. The Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to show that reassigning leads to non-African American counterparts, taking over or removing leads generated or managed by Plaintiff at the last minute, and/or requiring Plaintiff to split leads with other CSCs were adverse employment actions. The Court also found that Plaintiff could not show that she was treated less favorably than similarly-situated employees outside of her protected class. Further, Plaintiff claimed that ADT unlawfully retaliated against her for making internal complaints of race discrimination and for filing EEOC charges by (1) denying Plaintiff commission compensation; (2) issuing her a final written warning regarding behavioral issues; and (3) terminating her employment. The Court concluded that Plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of retaliation because she failed to show a causal connection because, while the Defendant had knowledge that she engaged in protected conduct prior to the final warning, Plaintiff also had documented behavioral and performance issues before and after Plaintiff made complaints of race discrimination. The Court stated that Plaintiff failed to establish causation because temporal proximity alone, post-Nasar, is insufficient. Accordingly, the Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameStevenson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Amy Totenberg

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: ADA Failure to Accommodate
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: ADA Disability Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  3. Claim: Title VII & Section 1981 Race Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  4. Claim: Title VII Gender Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  5. Claim: ADEA Age Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  6. Claim: Retaliation (Title VII, Section 1981, ADA, ADEA)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African-American

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

The Court followed the recommendations of the R&R and granted summary judgment to the Defendant on all counts.

Defendant Delta Air Lines, Inc. investigated Plaintiff Quaniah Stevenson for allowing someone to use her “travel passes” (free and reduced-fare travel Delta provides to employees and their companions) for business travel, which is against company policy.  In the investigation Delta found Stevenson to be untruthful and terminated her, citing her dishonesty and the abuse of travel passes. Stevenson filed suit, alleging failure to accommodate her disability, race/sex/age/disability discrimination, and retaliation.

Delta moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff failed to separately list – and, more importantly, cite evidence supporting – its assertions of fact and responses to Defendants statements of fact. Therefore, Plaintiff's facts were not considered. Stevenson's failure to accommodate and retaliation claims failed because she hadn't provided evidence that she had requested an accommodation or otherwise engaged in protected activity. Her age discrimination claim failed because she hadn't shown that she was replaced by a “substantially younger” employee (or even identified the age of her replacement). Her disability discrimination claim failed because she did not explain how she was disabled and introduced no competent evidence of discrimination. And her sex/race discrimination claims failed because she did not identify any similarly situated comparator outside her protected class who was treated better than her for the same violations. Finally, Stevenson did not demonstrate that Delta's justifications were pretext. The District Court, therefore, granted summary judgment on all claims in favor of Defendant.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameClark v. Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists, LLC et al.

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting R&R in Part and Partially Denying & Partially Granting Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: Regina D. Cannon

District Judge: Michael L. Brown

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied
  2. Claim: Retaliation (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  3. Claim: Battery (GA State Law)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  4. Claim: Negligent Retention (GA State Law)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes as to outcome. Slightly altered as to reasoning.

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff Dawn M. Clark initially ignored the sexual advances of Defendant Rob Wheeley. But, when he was promoted to CEO of her employer, Defendant Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists (“AWRS”), Clark feared for her job and gave in to his sexual advances. Still, she grew increasingly uncomfortable with the year-long affair, such that she tried to avoid Wheeley. She told her supervisor (Nye) about the affair and asked that supervisor's help in avoiding Wheeley. When a second supervisor (Coad) tried to terminate Clark for insubordination, Wheeley intervened and saved her job. Later, however, AWRS terminated Nye and Nye's attorney sent the company a demand letter disclosing the Clark/Wheeley affair. Shortly thereafter, AWRS terminated Clark for alleged insubordination. Clark filed suit, alleging quid pro quosexual harassment in violation of Title VII, retaliation in violation of Title VII, and state law claims of battery (against Wheeley) and negligent retention/supervision (against AWRS)

AWRS and Wheeley moved for summary judgment. Magistrate Judge Regina D. Cannon recommended denying summary judgment as to the quid pro quo sexual harassment claim and granting summary judgment as to all other claims. Each party objected to the recommendations adverse to its interests. As to the quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, District Judge Michael L. Brown denied summary judgment. Judge Brown agreed with Magistrate Judge Cannon that there was evidence that Wheeley's sexual advances were unwelcome as Clark tried to avoid him and only submitted because she feared losing her job. Although Judge Brown agreed with Defendants that Magistrate Judge Cannon erroneously failed to consider Defendants' non-discriminatory justification for the termination (Clark's insubordination), he held that Clark had presented sufficient evidence that this justification was pretext – including evidence that Wheeley said he would “fire that bitch” after the affair was exposed. However, Judge Brown granted summary judgment as to the remaining claims. As to the retaliation claim, Judge Brown found Clark had not engaged in protected activity by taking any steps to complain of unlawful harassment or discrimination, noting that Clark had waived the right to dispute this finding by failing to make any substantive arguments about it. As to the state law battery and negligent retention/supervision claims, Clark did not object to the recommendations that summary judgment be granted against them. Therefore, Judge Brown adopted those recommendations. In sum, Judge Brown denied summary judgment on Plaintiff's quid pro quo sexual harassment claim and granted summary judgment on all the other claims.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case Name: Powell v. Burger Docs Atlanta, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Order Denying Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: John K. Larkins

District Judge: Michael L. Brown

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII, Retaliation 
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied

Summary:

The district court adopted in part the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation and denied Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.  

Plaintiff formerly worked for Defendant as a line cook and supervisor.  On December 11, 2018, she was discharged, for job abandonment according to Defendant.  Plaintiff asserts, contrary to Defendant's stated reason, she was fired in retaliation for participating in an investigation involving her supervisor's alleged sexual harassment of a subordinate. The Magistrate Judge recommended in its Report & Recommendation granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff objected, and the district court, while overruling some of Plaintiff's objections, ultimately agreed with her objection regarding pretext and denied summary judgment. The Court stated, “the Court disagrees with the Magistrate Judge's assessment of the ‘purported inconsistencies' and agrees Plaintiff has presented evidence sufficient for a reasonable factfinder to conclude Defendant's non-discriminatory reason was pretextual.”

The Court found that a reasonable fact finder could conclude that both Plaintiff and Ms. Vaiton, Defendant's General Manager, believed Plaintiff was instructed to leave. The Court also stated that Plaintiff's testimony calls into question Ms. Vaiton's view of Plaintiff's conduct – “abandoning” the job – and thus the veracity of the proffered reason. The Court further stated that a reasonable juror could conclude Ms. Vaiton's accusation of job abandonment is unworthy of belief. Additionally, the Court found that, if accepted, Plaintiff's testimony would permit a jury to conclude Ms. Vaiton knew Plaintiff had been told by Mr. Hattix to leave for the day and could even conclude Ms. Vaiton told Mr. Hattix to give that instruction.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameCraven v. Alpha Omega Construction Group

Nature of the Order: Final Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Charles A. Pannell Jr.

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: ADA disability termination
    • Outcome: Defendant's MSJ should be denied, Plaintiff's MSJ should be denied
  2. Claim: ADA failure to provide reasonable accommodation
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ should be granted if Plaintiff bases his claim on his first request for leave but denied if Plaintiff bases his claim on his second request for leave, Plaintiff's MSJ should be denied

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

Plaintiff had been experiencing issues with his left knee since 2008, and he was eventually scheduled for knee replacement surgery in early 2020. Plaintiff's first leave request submitted to Defendant sought eight weeks of leave to recover from surgery. A doctor's note attached stated that his limitations included driving, squatting, kneeling, walking long distances, and standing for long periods. Defendant informed Plaintiff that his request would present an undue hardship. Plaintiff submitted a revised leave request a couple of weeks later that included a sooner return to work date and a doctor's note stating that his limitations included climbing and lifting. This latter doctor's note also stated that Plaintiff must be allowed to work from home and attend physical therapy sessions. Defendant denied the revised request as well. Plaintiff ultimately brought claims under the ADA for disability termination and failure to provide a reasonable accommodation. Both parties moved for summary judgment.

Regarding Plaintiff's disability termination claim, the magistrate judge held that Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that he had a disability. When viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, he would be able to perform the essential functions of that position with a reasonable accommodation. However, when viewing the facts in a light most favorable to Defendant, Plaintiff could not perform the essential functions of this position because other evidence suggested that the position did require climbing on ladders. Additionally, the first note from Plaintiff's doctor contained more restrictions and limitations. Therefore, the magistrate judge held that Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the claim should not be granted. Judge Walker also held that Defendant's motion should not be granted on this claim because it did not argue that Plaintiff could not prove that he was terminated because of his disability. As to Plaintiff's reasonable accommodation claim, Judge Walker recommended denying Plaintiff's motion because he could not state a prima facie case when viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Defendant. Judge Walker recommended that Defendant's motion be granted if Plaintiff's claim was based on his first request for leave because the attached doctor's note restricted essential job functions for an indefinite period. However, to the extent Plaintiff bases his claim on his revised request for leave, Judge Walker recommended that Defendant's motion be denied because that doctor's note stated a definite period of leave, limitations that did not impact essential functions of the position, and remote work only when possible. Also, Defendant was unable to show that accommodating Plaintiff would have posed an undue hardship.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case Name: Davis v. Teachers Retirement System of Georgia

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Magistrate Judge's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Alan J. Baverman

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

Claim: Title VII, Retaliation  

  • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Summary:

The Court adopted the Magistrate's Report & Recommendation.

Defendant Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (“TRS”) is an agency of the State of Georgia responsible for administering the pension fund from which teachers in the state's public schools, some employees of the University System of Georgia, and other designated employees in education-related work environments receive retirement benefits. Plaintiff Jamila Davis began working for TRS on March 16, 2016, as a retirement specialist. On February 7, 2017, Davis filed an EEOC charge against TRS claiming that she was being harassed and retaliated against by her supervisor, Jennifer Alridge. On May 8, 2017, Davis sent an email to TRS Human Resources Generalist Surbrena Johnson stating that Alridge was retaliating against her (Davis) because Davis had filed the EEOC charge. Davis was notified of her termination on May 11, 2017. On May 17, 2017, Davis filed a second charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The EEOC investigated and found that, after Davis's first charge, TRS increased the level of scrutiny of her work product and terminated her employment; TRS's nondiscriminatory reason for termination did not withstand scrutiny, and there was reasonable cause to conclude that TRS had retaliated against Davis for filing her first charge.

Both the Magistrate Judge and District Court determined that Plaintiff could not demonstrate that she engaged in statutorily protected conduct because the February charge does not contain complaints about discrimination based on a Title VII protected characteristic. Additionally, both the Magistrate Judge and the district court concluded that even if Plaintiff had shown a prima facie case, she failed to show pretext. Plaintiff also objected to Defendant's good faith honest belief arguments, which the district court overruled because Plaintiff failed to present evidence that Defendant did not actually believe she engaged in the conduct. The district court adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report & Recommendation.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameReddy v. Milan Eye LLC

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Regina D. Cannon

District Judge: Amy Totenberg

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII gender discrimination
    • Outcome: Defendant's MSJ denied
  2. Claim: Title VII race/national origin discrimination
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ denied
  3. Claim: Title VII retaliation
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ denied
  4. Claim: 1981 gender discrimination
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ denied
  5. Claim: 1981race/national origin discrimination
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ denied

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: South Indian

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff worked for Defendant as an ophthalmologist from September 2016 to February 2019, at which time she was terminated for allegedly having a negative attitude at work and discussing patient information publicly. Less than three months before her termination, she had written a letter detailing her experiences of gender discrimination. The magistrate judge recommended denial of summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims of gender and race/national origin discrimination because she provided comparator evidence, evidence of discriminatory comments made by the decisionmaker that showed pretext, and a suspect time sequence. The District Court departed from the R&R  in response to Plaintiff's objection regarding one statement by the decisionmaker. It held that “once we get rid of Dr. Reddy, we will never hire another female surgeon. They're too much trouble” was direct evidence of discrimination.

Regarding Plaintiff's retaliation claim, the Court held that Plaintiff engaged in protected activity by saying that she felt she was held to a double standard as a woman and writing the letter concerning discrimination. As she was terminated only three months after sending the letter and the decisionmaker made discriminatory comments, the Court held that Defendant's reasons for terminating Plaintiff were pretextual.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameWoods v. Lockheed Martin Corporation

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Christopher C. Bly

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Sex Discrimination (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Race Discrimination (1981)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African American

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

The District Court adopted the R&R and granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff is an African American female. In 2015, as a result of a reorganization plan and workforce reduction policy (and down-leveling of some employees), Plaintiff and three male senior managers were grouped together, as they had similar skills and held similar positions. The workforce reduction committee reviewed the four senior managers' factor scores and past performance ratings, pursuant to the reduction in force policy. Bryant McKee, and African American male, had the highest score and was transferred to a different role in a different program. John Strickland, a Caucasian male, received the next best score and took over the new consolidated senior manager position. Bryan Batt, a Caucasian male, received the third best score, and was reclassified into a different position. Plaintiff received the lowest score and was identified for layoff. Ultimately, however, she was given the option to select a down-leveled position. Plaintiff chose the down-leveled, lower-level manager position.

The Court decided to grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment because, while Plaintiff easily established a prima facie case of discrimination, she was unable to show that Defendant's legitimate reason for down-leveling her was pretext for discrimination. In fact, she failed to provide evidence showing Defendant's decision to down-level her was the result of discriminatory animus, and instead focused on arguing that she was more qualified than the person ultimately chosen to take her old position. Additionally, she failed to respond to Defendant's statement of material facts and consequently, Defendant's facts were admitted.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameBall v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Nature of the Order: Order

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Steven D. Grimberg

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Disability Discrimination (Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Retaliation Discrimination (Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied

Whether R&R Followed: Adopted in part, declined in part

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: NA

            Gender of Plaintiff: NA

Summary:

Plaintiff was an employee of Georgia Southern University who was terminated for falsifying time records. His termination occurred within a month of him requesting accommodations for his recent amputation, which the University had granted. He filed disability discrimination and retaliation claims against the University. The University filed a motion for summary judgment. Judge Walker recommended summary judgment for the discrimination claim because Plaintiff's argument that he was treated differently upon his return from leave and was terminated just a few weeks after Southern granted his accommodations were deemed to be mere allegations that were not sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that the decisionmakers were operated by discriminatory animus. Judge Walker recommended summary judgment for the retaliation claim, stating that while the temporal proximity between Plaintiff's request for accommodations and his termination was sufficient to show a causal link, his falsified time records were an intervening act that eliminated any inference of causation.

Judge Grimberg agreed with Judge Walker regarding the retaliation claim but disagreed with her as to the discrimination claim. Judge Grimberg stated that the circumstantial evidence presented by Ball showed that GSU's head football coach failed to either recognize or appreciate Ball's physical limitations on multiple occasions; Ball's supervisor kept a record of all the times Ball was unable to do something at work due to his disability; and discussions about Ball's disability and his accommodations overlapped with discussions about his falsified timesheets. Therefore, he held, it would be reasonable for a jury to infer that, at the very least, the investigation into Ball's absences began as an investigation into the limitations presented by his disability.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameKelley v. Catherine Howden and GEMA/Homeland Security

Nature of the Order: Order

Magistrate Judge: Justin S. Anand

District Judge: William M. Ray II

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Race Discrimination (Section 1981)
    • Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Race Discrimination (Equal Protection Clause of 14th Amendment – Section 1983)
    • Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted
  3. Claim: Race Discrimination (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted
  4. Claim: Retaliation (Section 1981)
    • Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted
  5. Claim: Retaliation (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Recommend Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Adopted in part, declined in part

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African-American

            Gender of Plaintiff: NA

Summary:

Plaintiff Christen Robinson Kelley, who is African-American, was hired as a Communications Specialist by Defendant Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (“GEMA”). Her supervisor was Defendant Catherine Howden (“Howden”). Kelley's non-African-American colleagues had a bigger starting salary and were promoted more quickly than Kelley. In November 2017, Howden told Kelley that her performance was not up to par, and Kelley complained to Howden that she was being treated differently than her peers. In January 2018, Kelley requested a promotion. Instead, the next month, Howden placed Kelley on a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”). After Kelley filed an EEOC charge and complained internally, she was transferred to a different supervisor and, months later, released from the PIP and given a promotion. Kelley ultimately filed suit, alleging race discrimination in pay and the initial failure to promote, and retaliation for being placed on the PIP shortly after what she argued was protected activity.

GEMA and Howden moved for summary judgment. Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand recommended granting summary judgment as to all claims.

Plaintiff filed several objections. First, Judge Ray determined Judge Anand applied the correct standard in determining whether Howden and GEMA's failure to follow rules was direct evidence of discrimination by considering whether this failure reflects “a discriminatory or retaliatory attitude correlating to the discrimination or retaliation complained of by the employee.” Then, in response to Plaintiff's objection to the Magistrate Judge's finding in a footnote that spoilation did not occur, Judge Ray explained that the Magistrate Judge was simply stating that Plaintiff had passed the deadline to assert the spoilation argument. Judge Ray also overruled Plaintiff's objection to the Magistrate Judge's finding that there were no similarly situated comparators, because the Magistrate Judge was not limited to just three relevant factors in analyzing whether the comparators are similarly situated in all material respects. Finally, Plaintiff objected to the fact that the Magistrate Judge did not explain why summary judgment should be granted to Defendants on Plaintiff's mixed-motive claim, but after addressing it within the order, Judge Ray held that Plaintiff had not met her burden.

The Court, therefore, adopted the R&R and granted Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameDavis v. Dekalb County

Nature of the Order: Order

Magistrate Judge: Justin S. Anand

District Judge: Leigh Martin May

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Racial Discrimination (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended
  2. Claim: Racial Discrimination (§ 1983)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended

Whether R&R Followed: Adopted in part, declined in part

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African American

            Gender of Plaintiff: NA

Summary:

Plaintiff, a Dekalb County Firefighter at the time of his employment with Dekalb County, filed suit against his former employer, alleging race discrimination claims under Title VII and Section 1981. Defendant, after discovery closed, moved for summary judgment. The magistrate judge recommended that the motion be granted.

Plaintiff was arrested for obstruction and disorderly conduct. Defendant launched an investigation and ultimately terminated Plaintiff because of his actions. The magistrate judge stated that Plaintiff established a prima facie case of discrimination, including the showing of a relevant comparator. Defendant argued that it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for termination because Plaintiff's conduct the night of his arrest warranted termination as opposed to the conduct of the comparator in this case, which Defendant contended did not warrant termination. The magistrate judge found that Defendant had satisfied its burden in showing that it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for termination Plaintiff. Next, Plaintiff argued that the Defendant's reason for termination was pretextual because (1) there were inconsistencies in the reasons given by Defendant and (2) there were inconsistencies in the application of the employee policies. However, the magistrate judge recommended granting the motion because “[i]n the end, Plaintiff's argument is nothing more than a dispute with the wisdom or fairness of the Defendant's decision to terminate his employment, when compared to Defendant's decision to suspend Smalley [comparator] rather than terminate him.”

The magistrate judge also determined that Plaintiff did not cite to any evidence of a “convincing mosaic” of circumstantial evidence that would suggest that the decisionmaker harbored any discriminatory animus based on Plaintiff's race. The magistrate judge agreed with Defendant that these statements were based on hearsay and not on Plaintiff's personal knowledge.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameBaines v. City of Atlanta, GA and Robin Shahar in her Individual Capacity

Nature of the Order: Final Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Justin S. Anand

District Judge: Thomas W. Thrash, Jr.

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Sex Harassment and Discrimination (§ 1983) against City
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended
  2. Claim: Sex Harassment and Discrimination (§ 1983) against Shahar
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended
  3. Claim: Discrimination and Retaliation (Title VII) against City
    • Outcome:
  4. Claim: Failure to Accommodate (ADA) against City
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Recommended
  5. Claim: Discrimination and Retaliation (ADA) against City
    • Outcome:
  6. Claim: FMLA Interference against City
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied
  7. Claim: FMLA Retaliation against City
    • Outcome:

Whether R&R Followed:

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: NA

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff Tamara Baines filed this employment discrimination action on January 15, 2019. All three parties moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff asserted a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants City of Atlanta (the “City”) and Robin Shahar harassed her and discriminated against her because of her sex. The incidents related to Plaintiff's harassment claims were either done while Plaintiff was not at work or were considered commonplace office events (ex. withdrawing or assignment of work tasks). Thus, the Court held that both Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's § 1983 claims.

She alleged further that the City discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII and the ADA. The Court determined Defendant's argument that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies was insufficient, Plaintiff's charge needed only to lay out the factual bases underpinning their later lawsuit in such a manner that the charge could reasonably be read as asserting the claims brought in the later lawsuit.

The Court stated Plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim failed, as she was not entitled to demand the specific accommodation that she wanted, was caught moonlighting in the private practice of law against City rules and was terminated and did not provide proof that she was denied a reasonable accommodation. Thus, summary judgment was appropriate.

As for Plaintiff's disability discrimination under the ADA and retaliation claims under the ADA, Title VII, and FMLA, the City argued that Plaintiff was terminated due to her moonlighting. Plaintiff argued that a fitness-for-duty clearance was not reasonably job-related and consistent with business necessity, but the Court found the argument meritless. Moreover, the City's attempt to prevent Plaintiff from returning to work until getting a fitness-for-duty clearance was based on its sincere belief that she had threatened to kill herself.

As for whether the City unlawfully interfered with Plaintiff's FMLA leave by assigning her work during her leave, the Court found disputed issues of fact precluding summary judgment in the City's favor. However, the Court determined that her FMLA failure-to-reinstate claims were insufficient, as the City provided independent reasons for her termination.

Finally, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was deemed moot because her ADA claims were otherwise subject to dismissal.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameNatasha Grimes v. Technical College System of Georgia, Lori Durden, and Ryan Foley

Nature of the Order: Order

Magistrate Judge: John K. Larkin III

District Judge: William M. Ray, II

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Disability retaliation under Rehabilitation Act
  • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ recommended
  • Claim: Disability retaliation under Title VII
  • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ recommended
  • Claim: Gender discrimination under Section 1983
  • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ recommended
  • Claim: Race discrimination under Section 1983
  • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ recommended

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: African American

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff, an African American woman, was hired as Ogeechee Technical College's first and only Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. Lori Durden was President of Ogeechee and Ryan Foley served as its Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. When she was hired, she was told that she was going to be “groomed” to take over as Dean when he retired. However, when the Dean retired, a white, male candidate was given the position.

Plaintiff brought eight claims. She claimed she was subjected to an adverse employment action when she wasn't given the Dean position. The Magistrate Judge disagreed, stating that because she never applied for the position, and instead merely stated she was interested, that it was not an adverse employment action. The Magistrate Judge also held that Plaintiff was unable to establish a causal link between her protected activity in filing an EEOC charge and the elimination of her position a year later, but even if she could, the Magistrate Judge stated her claim would fail because she had no evidence overcoming Defendant's legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for letting her go. Unfortunately, the remainder of her claims were also dismissed for lack of evidence in support of her allegations. The District Court agreed with the Magistrate Court, with the exception of the facts surrounding the elimination of her position. Consequently, the District Court adopted all of the Magistrate Judge's Recommendations, except her retaliation claims related to the elimination of her position, as well as her arguments related to the mosaic theory.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameFranks v. Whitfield County, GA

Nature of the Order: Final Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Walter E. Johnson

District Judge: Harold Lloyd Murphy

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII constructive discharge against Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood in his official capacity
    • Outcome: Defendant's MSJ should be granted
  2. Claim: Title VII sexually hostile work environment against Chitwood
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ should be denied
  3. Claim: Title VII disparate treatment against Chitwood
    • Outcome: Defendant's MSJ should be granted
  4. Claim: Title VII retaliation against Chitwood
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ should be denied
  5. Claim: 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Captain Paul Woods of the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office in his individual capacity
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ should be denied and Plaintiff's MSJ should be denied

Whether R&R Followed: N/A

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff began working for Sheriff Chitwood and was eventually transferred to the CID in 2015, where she worked as an evidence tech on an 8 a.m.-4 p.m. shift. Paul Woods started working for Sheriff Chitwood in 1995 and joined the CID in January 2017. The CID held mandatory morning meetings, and Woods made sexual comments on a near-daily basis at these meetings. Under Chitwood's anti-harassment policy, employees experiencing discrimination should raise complaints with a supervisor of their choosing. Plaintiff complained to a supervisor on multiple occasions. On one occasion, Woods made a vulgar comment about female genitalia, and Plaintiff told him the comment was not okay. In early 2018, Woods became Captain over the CID. Shortly after he became Captain, Woods also changed Plaintiff's shift to noon-8 p.m. This shift would not work for Plaintiff because of childcare needs, and Plaintiff eventually resigned because of this hardship. Plaintiff brought four claims against Chitwood in his official capacity under Title VII – constructive discharge, sexually hostile work environment, disparate treatment, and retaliation. She also brought a § 1983 Equal Protection claim against Woods individually based on the same allegations.

As to Plaintiff's sexually hostile work environment claim, the magistrate judge recommended that Defendants' motion be denied because Woods was motivated by a general hostility towards women in the workplace, Plaintiff was subjectively offended by Woods's conduct, and a jury could find that her offense was objectively reasonable. Additionally, her complaint to a supervisor imputed knowledge to Chitwood, and he did not take prompt remedial action. The magistrate judge recommended that Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's constructive discharge be granted because Plaintiff abandoned the claim. As to Plaintiff's disparate treatment claim concerning the change to the start time of her shift, the magistrate judge recommended that Defendant's motion be granted because the change was not an adverse employment action. The change in her shift did not substantially alter the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of her employment or deprive her of employment opportunities.

Regarding Plaintiff's retaliation claim, the magistrate judge recommended that Defendants' motion be denied because her objection to Woods's particular vulgar comment was protected activity causally connected to the change in her shift start time. Defendants' proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons were pretextual. The change in her shift constituted an adverse employment action under the broader standard for retaliation claims. Finally, the magistrate judge recommended that the cross motions for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's § 1983 claim against Woods for creating a sexually hostile work environment be denied. While the magistrate judge found that Woods was not entitled to qualified immunity at summary judgment because his actions were potentially outside of his discretionary authority, it should remain an issue for a jury.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case Namedel Portillo et al. v. Dekalb Medical Center, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting R&R, as Modified, and Granting Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: Alan J. Baverman

District Judge: Clarence Cooper

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Tortious Interference w/ Contractual Relationship or Business Relations (GA State Law)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Retaliation (Title VII) – Plaintiff del Portillo
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted b/c claim abandoned
  3. Claim: Retaliation (Title VII) – Plaintiff Cobb
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  4. Claim: Sex Discrimination – Constructive Discharge (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  5. Claim: Sex Discrimination – Hostile Work Environment (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes as to outcome. Slightly altered as to reasoning.

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: N/A

            Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

Defendant Dekalb Medical Center, Inc. (“DMC”) contracted out its neonatology services to a company called Mednax, which, in turn, employed the neonatologists who worked at DMC, including Plaintiffs Madeline del Portillo (“Dr. del Portillo”) and Bridget Cobb (“Dr. Cobb”). In 2016, DMC threatened to cancel its contract with Mednax unless Mednax removed Plaintiffs and one other female neonatologist from working at DMC, saying “the women must go.” DMC blamed the decision on nurse complaints about Plaintiffs. Mednax did not terminate the Plaintiffs, but they both resigned (after a Mednax-required 90-day notice period). Claiming they were forced to resign (constructive discharge), Drs. Cobb and del Portillo filed suit against DMC, alleging Tortious Interference with their contractual relationship with Mednax, Retaliation in violation of Title VII, Sex Discrimination (constructive discharge) in violation of Title VII, and Sex-Based Hostile Work Environment in violation of Title VII.

DMC moved for summary judgment. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman recommended granting summary judgment as to all claims, and Plaintiffs filed objections. District Judge Clarence Cooper granted summary judgment, adopting Judge Baverman's reasoning with one modification. To wit: Judge Cooper granted summary judgment on the Tortious Interference claim because only “strangers” to the contracts may be liable for Tortious Interference. As a third-party beneficiary to Plaintiffs' contract with Mednax (receiving the benefit of Plaintiffs providing medical services to DMC's patients), DMC was not a “stranger” to the contract. Similarly, Judge Cooper granted summary judgment as to Dr. del Portillo's Retaliation claim because she abandoned it and as to Dr. Cobb's Retaliation claim because she failed to allege retaliation in her timely EEOC Charge. Finally, Judge Baverman recommended granting summary judgment on Plaintiffs' constructive discharge and hostile work environment claims because Plaintiffs' arguments at summary judgment were so vague and unclear as to be non-responsive to DMC's summary judgment motion. Judge Cooper did not adopt this reasoning, holding that even an unopposed summary judgment motion must be evaluated to determine whether summary judgment is appropriate. However, Judge Cooper still granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claims, but for substantive reasons. To wit: Plaintiffs' evidence was not direct evidence, much of it relied on inadmissible hearsay, and the claim that their working conditions were so intolerable as to force them to resign was undercut by the fact that they kept working there for 90 days after announcing their resignations. Therefore, Judge Cooper adopted the recommendations, with that one modification, and granted summary judgment on all claims.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameNicole Owens v. State of Georgia, Governor's Office of Student Achievement

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Magistrate Judge's Final Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker District Judge: Mark H. Cohen Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: ADA – Retaliation
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: ADA – Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted
  3. Claim: Title VII Discrimination – gender/pregnancy
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed: Yes

Summary:

The Court adopted the Magistrate's Report & Recommendation, which is summarized below.

Plaintiff worked for the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (“GOSA”). In early 2018, Plaintiff informed GOSA that she was pregnant, and after giving birth by cesarean section, she needed accommodation to work remotely due to complications from her surgery. Her doctor's note did not provide a reason, and Dr. Good (Executive Director of GOSA) told her she needed to formally request an accommodation. Plaintiff was unable to get the paperwork from her doctor by the deadline (which Defendant had extended for her already once). Dr. Good terminated her.

Plaintiff brought three claims against GOSA. She argued that they discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of the Rehabilitation Act and discriminated against her on the basis of her gender/pregnancy under Title VII. However, because the Court determined that she had caused the breakdown in the interactive process by not communicating a specific time when they could expect her paperwork, not bringing them the required paperwork, and GOSA had made an effort by extending the deadline they originally gave her, she was unable to show that GOSA's termination of Plaintiff was pretextual.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameLamonte v. City of Hampton, GA

Nature of the Order: Order Partially Adopting Final Report and Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Catherine M. Salinas

District Judge: Amy Totenberg

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Racial discrimination in violation of Title VII
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ granted
  2. Claim: Violation ofGeorgia Whistleblower Act
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ denied
  3. Claim: Breach of contract
    • Outcome: Defendant'sMSJ granted

Whether R&R Followed: Partially

For Race/Gender Discrimination Cases:

            Race of Plaintiff: Black

            Gender of Plaintiff: N/A

Summary:

The District Court adopted the findings and recommendations relating to Plaintiff's Title VII and breach of contract claims. However, the Court declined to adopt the R&R findings related to the Plaintiff's Georgia Whistleblower Act claim and the dependent attorney's fees and punitive damages claims.

Plaintiff was hired by the City of Hampton, Georgia, to review, fix, and manage its finances. Plaintiff found some errors in the City's finances. Specifically, he found questionable charges on credit cards and many budget amendments. When he brought it to the mayor, the mayor told him to adjust the budget so that the inconsistencies appeared to be fixed. Plaintiff refused. Eventually, Plaintiff's mugshot was found, and the City Council became aware of Plaintiff's criminal background (that he did not disclose during the application process). He was soon after that terminated for his false statements during his interview and on his application.

The District Court followed the recommendations of the magistrate judge and granted summary judgment in favor of the City on Plaintiff's Title VII and breach of contract claims. Regarding the Title VII claim, Plaintiff could not find a valid comparator to show that he was treated less favorably. The magistrate judge could find no evidence showing racial discrimination led to his termination. As to Plaintiff's breach of contract claim regarding his alleged employment agreement, the City Charter stated all employees were at-will and subject to removal or suspension at any time. The District Court declined to follow the R&R and denied summary judgment on Plaintiff's Georgia Whistleblower Act claim because Plaintiff was able to create questions of fact as to whether he engaged in protected activity, causation between his protected objection and his termination, and pretext.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameEvans v. Gwinnett County School District

Nature of the Order: Order Denying Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: John K. Larkins

District Judge: J.P. Boulee

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: FMLA, Retaliation 
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied 
  2. Claim: ADA and Rehab Act, Discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied
  3. Claim: ADA and Rehab Act, Retaliation
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Denied

Summary:

The Court approved in part the Magistrate's Report & Recommendation but ultimately denied the motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff claimed that Defendant retaliated and/or discriminated against her for taking medical leave by refusing to assign her to a teaching position after she returned and preventing her from obtaining partial unemployment benefits. Plaintiff objected to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation that she did not carry her burden of showing pretext. Plaintiff argued that evidence such as the Leave Statements, standing alone, is sufficient to show pretext and when combined with other evidence, such as Plaintiff's Supervisor's (“Lewis”) allegedly inadequate job search, provides a “convincing mosaic” of pretext.  The “Leave Statements” include the following comments that were made upon her return to work (Evans “should have thought about that before [she] went out on leave for that long.” Her supervisor “would decide where and when” Evans would return to work and that Evans “should be grateful that she was returning to work.”  Her supervisor “reiterated that [Evans] should not have gone out on leave.”).  

The Court found that there was significant disagreement as to the pretext and that a reasonable factfinder could find (1) that the Leave Statements (Lewis' repeated statements that Evans should not have taken extended leave) did not simply represent Lewis' explanation of the Absence Policy but rather reflected Lewis' animus on account of Evans' extended leave;  (2) that the limited search for open positions as evidence that Lewis did not wish to place Evans in an open position for the remainder of the year as Evans' punishment for taking extended leave; and (3) that Lewis found no suitable open positions in which to place Evans in light of Evans' evidence that she was qualified for numerous positions open for the remainder of the 2017/2018 school year was false.

The Court approved and adopted the portion of the Report finding that (i) Evans has not provided direct evidence of discrimination; and (ii) Evans did not suffer an adverse employment action as a result of the Defendant decision not to seek partial unemployment benefits on her behalf.  The Court declines to adopt the portion of the Report that finds Evans failed to carry her burden on the issue of pretext.  Accordingly, the Court DENIED summary judgment on Evans' FMLA claims.  Additionally, because the Report's recommendation of summary judgment on Evans' ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims relies on the finding that Evans did not offer sufficient evidence of pretext, the Court similarly found that it was not appropriate to grant summary judgment on those claims.   The Court found that there was still an open question as to whether Evans has established a prima facie case of discrimination and retaliation under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act.  The Report assumed these questions, without deciding them, and proceeded directly to the issue of pretext.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case Name: Dobbs v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.

Nature of the Order: Order Adopting Magistrate Judge's Report & Recommendation

Magistrate Judge: Linda T. Walker

District Judge: Mark H. Cohen

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Age Discrimination Under the ADEA
    • Outcome: Motion for Summary Judgment Granted
  2. Claim: Retaliation Under the ADEA
    • Outcome: Motion for Summary Judgment Granted

Whether R&R Followed:  Yes

Summary:

The Court adopted the Magistrate's Report & Recommendation, which is summarized below.

In June 2017, Defendant Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (“Martin Marietta”) announced its intent to acquire another company. In order to avoid coming in conflict with antitrust laws, Martin Marietta proposed divestiture of its Forsyth Quarry, On February 12, 2018, Dobbs was informed that Martin Marietta would be divesting its quarry and that the employees would be changing employers. Dobbs was also told that if he tried to apply for employment at Martin Marietta, he would not be rehired. Dobbs testified that he believed that Martin Marietta was demoting him and terminating him based on his age by February 12, 2018, and he felt the same on April 10, 2018, when he was again notified that his employment with Martin Marietta was ending, and he would not be eligible for rehire. Dobbs filed an EEOC charge on October 22, 2018.

Martin Marietta argued that Dobbs failed to file an EEOC Charge within 180 days of when he knew or reasonably should have known that he was being discriminated against – February 12, 2018, or April 10, 2018, at the latest. 180 days from April 10, 2018, was October 8, 2018. Judge walker agreed, finding that that, based on Dobbs' testimony, he had sufficient facts to support his contention that he was subjected to age discrimination as early as February 12, 2018, and no later than April 10, 2018. Accordingly, Judge Walker recommended that Martin Marietta's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted.

Judge Walker also noted that Dobbs' retaliation claim failed for another reason – it was temporally impossible. Dobbs alleged that the first time he engaged in protected activity was August 23, 2018. However, Dobbs was notified of the adverse actions on February 12, 2018, and April 10, 2018. Accordingly, it was not possible for the protected conduct to be causally connected to the protected activity because the retaliatory conduct must come after the protected activity.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameGladden v. The Proctor & Gamble Distributing, LLC

Nature of the Order: Order on Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: Justin S. Anand

District Judge: Charles A. Pannell

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Title VII, sex discrimination
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted for Defendant and Denied for Plaintiff
  2. Claim: Title VII, retaliation
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted for Defendant and Denied for Plaintiff

Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Summary:

Plaintiff worked for Defendant for 18 years. Between 2015 and 2018, Plaintiff worked with multiple P&G vendors, one of which was a company called Promoveo Health (“Promoveo”). Promoveo had and has a contract with P&G. Plaintiff filed suit for Title VII for sex discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff and Defendant both moved for summary judgment. The Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment and denied Plaintiff's motion.

The Court reviewed and adopted the Magistrate Judge's analysis, as follows: With respect to Defendant's motion, the court first stated that Plaintiff did not present any direct evidence of discrimination. The court found that Plaintiff did not present direct evidence of sex discrimination and her case rests solely on circumstantial evidence. The court then analyzed Plaintiff's evidence of discrimination through the McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework. The court found that Plaintiff presented a prima facie case. While the court found that the Plaintiff did not point to any comparators that engaged in conduct that was remotely similar to her conduct, she was able to satisfy the fourth element of a prima facie case because she could show a dispute as to material fact as to whether someone outside her protected class was her “replacement.”

The court went on to find that Defendant stated a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for termination, because P&G had lost trust and confidence in Plaintiff's ability to perform her job based on her conduct. The court then concluded that Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant's proffered reason for termination was pretextual because the undisputed evidence indicates that Defendant had a reasonable basis for concluding that she retaliated against Promoveo and that she conspired with the formerly terminated employee. Additionally, the court found that, while Plaintiff mentioned “convincing mosaic” in her brief, she did not cite to sufficient record evidence to rise to the level necessary for a “convincing mosaic” of circumstantial evidence of discrimination.

With respect to Plaintiff's retaliation claim, the court found that, despite Plaintiff's contention, she did not present direct evidence of discrimination because she cited to no record evidence that anyone at P&G ever said anything to her that would rise to the level of direct evidence of discrimination. The court then stated that she could not prove that she engaged in protected conduct based on a reasonable, good-faith belief that P&G had taken any action against her that could be viewed as discriminatory. The court stated that, even if Plaintiff could show she engaged in protected activity and while there was close temporal proximity between the termination and that activity, there were intervening factors, specifically Plaintiff's conduct and P&G's investigation into it, that had already begun and broke the causal link of temporal proximity alone. Additionally, even if Plaintiff had presented a prima facie case of retaliation, as discussed above, P&G has presented significant evidence that it had a legitimate reason to terminate Plaintiff's employment that was not related to her gender or any intent to retaliate against her, and Plaintiff has failed to present evidence establishing that P&G's reasons were false or were not the true reasons for its decision.

The Court therefore adopted the Magistrate Judge's recommendations that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be GRANTED and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment be DENIED.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameRuiz v. Fulton County School District

Nature of the Order: Order on Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: J. Clay Fuller

District Judge: Charles A. Pannell

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: ADA, Failure to Accommodate Claim
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted

Summary:

Plaintiff, Ruby Ruiz, was employed by Defendant, Fulton County School District (FCS) as a teacher. Ms. Ruiz alleges that she suffers from osteoarthritis, which restricts her ability to walk or stand for extended periods of time. FCS approved an accommodation for Ms. Ruiz on May 30, 2018, which included the condition that classroom assignment be no more than 100 feet apart and not require the use of stairs. In August 2018, Ms. Ruiz received her schedule for the new year, which she alleges required her to move to different classrooms and travel between 82 and 224 feet.

The Court reviewed and adopted the Magistrate Judge's analysis, as follows: The Court explained that FCS presented evidence that employees responsible for handling Ms. Ruiz's accommodations request walked and measured the distances between Ms. Ruiz's classes, and that those distances did not exceed 100 feet. On the other hand, Ms. Ruiz did not present such evidence. She merely testified during her deposition that she used a measuring tool on Google Earth based on aerial views of the schools, but that she did not recall what those measurements were. Ms. Ruiz also argued that FCS denied her the ability to be assigned to a single classroom, but the Court found that Ms. Ruiz never actually made such a request to FCS. However, even if Ms. Ruiz could show that she made this request, it was not a reasonable accommodation. Ms. Ruiz stated in her declaration that there were available classrooms that she could have taught out of; however, she testified in her deposition that she was told there were no available classrooms, or she was unaware if there was an available classroom. Accordingly, the Court found that Ms. Ruiz's allegation in her declaration was insufficient to create a triable issue of fact.

The Court therefore adopted the Magistrate Judge's recommendations that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be GRANTED.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

Case NameGuatemion (Juan) Mosley v. Preston Cycles West, LLC

Nature of the Order: Order on Summary Judgment

Magistrate Judge: Justin S. Anand

District Judge: Steve C. Jones

Claims & Outcomes:

  1. Claim: Sexual Harassment Hostile Work Environment (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted for Defendant
  2. Claim: Retaliation (Title VII)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted for Defendant
  3. Claim: Race, Color, Ethnicity Discrimination (Title VII and Section 1981)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted for Defendant
  4. Claim: Retaliation (Title VII and Section 1981)
    • Outcome: Summary Judgment Granted for Defendant

Gender of Plaintiff: Female

Race/Color of Plaintiff: African-American/Black

Summary:

Plaintiff worked for a Harley-Davidson dealership as a sales associate. Plaintiff got a new supervisor, Jeff Lewis. Lewis made racist comments towards Plaintiff and about the predominantly African American customer base. Ultimately, Plaintiff was terminated because Defendant alleged that he had poor performance in 6 out of 14 categories in his evaluation and did not improve after discussions, as well as called in two hours after he was supposed to report to his shift. Plaintiff brought claims for a hostile work environment, racial discrimination, and retaliation. The Court agreed with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to grant summary judgment for Defendant on the hostile work environment and retaliation claims. However, the Court overruled the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that Defendant's Motion be denied for Plaintiff's racial discrimination claim. The Court found that Plaintiff had not a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence. While the Court acknowledged that Lewis's remarks showed clear racial animus, it found that Lewis was not involved in nor did he influence the decision to terminate Plaintiff.

To read the full analysis, click here

For a copy of the complete order, click here.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany who helps potential clients understand the law, clarify their rights, and determine which steps they can take to protect themselves and their jobs.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.

WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY.

When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Menu